SSA 2012—Mountain and Ridge Soaring in Northern Utah (8x11)


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Presentation on mountain and ridge soaring in Northern Utah by Tim Taylor and Bruno Vassel at the 2012 Soaring Society of America convention in Reno, Nevada.

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SSA 2012—Mountain and Ridge Soaring in Northern Utah (8x11)

  1. 1. Mountain and Ridge Soaring in Northern Utah; The potential for fast cross country and 1000 K flightsTim Taylor (TT) and Bruno Vassel IV (B4)
  2. 2. Mountain Soaring Rocks! Video
  3. 3. Northern Utah provides a unique opportunity inthe USA to truly fly “in” the mountains. Loganhas often been compared to Rieti, Italy, Saint-Auban, France, and Omarama, New Zealandfor the true mountain and ridge flyingexperiences.The skills and techniques required as well asthe potential for long cross country flights will beexplored in this presentation.
  4. 4. Mountain Soaring Overview• Skills required• Safety• Techniques• Northern Utah (Nevada, Idaho and Wyoming flying area overview)• Example flights• Potential flights• Summary
  5. 5. Skills RequiredAbility to fly a sailplane without thinking about it: – Able to fly true 45 degree banked turns – Excellent speed control – Speed and situational awareness at all times – Able to think in front of the sailplane – Mountains sometimes don’t offer second- chances
  6. 6. Thermalling Skills RequiredIf you cant thermal decently you will have problems– Will not have fun– Waste lots of energy– Wont be safe thermalling near mountains/other gliders– Will cause frustration with other pilots– Must keep your eyes outside - audio vario– Always remember: extra airspeed is life!
  7. 7. Skills Required- Willingness to land out– Have a good road-worthy trailer! :)– Ability to pick fields and land out - whole other lecture on how to do this well– When your mind is made up that it is ok to land out – its incredibly liberating!– 1:8 land out ratio is healthy and makes it FUN!
  8. 8. First Safety Item: Review Best Materials About Mountain Flying• Gavin Wills (Mountain Soaring Tips - Ridge Running)* (Cloud Huggers and Rock Hoppers)* (Outsmarting the Sirens)* (Norm’s Last Flight)*• JJ Sinclair (Don’t Smack the Mountain 101)**• Henry Combs (That Beautiful Mountain and Her Sinister Trap)*• Kempton Izuno (Working Ridges)** *Soaring Magazine **PASCO
  9. 9. Mountain Soaring Safety• Get training – Please dont try to learn on your own. Fly with local mentors• Know your limits• Make decisions before takeoff - set personal limits• Rule #1 Dont hit anything or anyone else!
  10. 10. Mountain Soaring Safety– Speed is life– Situational awareness is critical– Know where you are and where your safety zones are at all times (sometimes they are out of sight through a canyon)– Flying down on the terrain means you don’t have the normal “big picture” perspective • With higher speed you can get “lost” in a hurry
  11. 11. Mountain Soaring Safety– Respect but don’t fear the mountains– This is higher risk flying but the rewards are incredible • 1000’s Amazing Views – ground rush, wildlife, mtn ranges, the list goes on and on… • Amazingly strong thermals, 20+ knots!!! • Overcome challenges to achieve satisfying end- goals
  12. 12. Mountain Thermalling Safety Tips– Dont thermal near terrain at highest bank angle. We keep airspeed reserves of course, but also keep extra bank reserves in case you need to tighten up.– Figure 8s are much less work and safer than trying to do 60 degree bank circles close to the terrain.– Wings parallel to mountain and dive away as a last resort if you get too close. Video Examples
  13. 13. Techniques
  14. 14. Mountain XC Techniques• Know the wind and sun direction always! Keep a mental picture of wind and how it should interact with the mountain.• 50/50 rule looking up vs. down• The fastest route along a windy mountain ridge is at the ridges crest. » Here the wind direction and strength often are of most use• When ridge top is sinking in good wind try moving out away from ridge a little bit. – Gavin Wills
  15. 15. Mountain XC Techniques• If you are in a hurry, use surges of lift to build speed rather than altitude. If a ridge is working from low down it is generally fastest to climb gently on track until the crest is reached and then accelerate to stay there.• It is faster to fly along ridge crest than try to thermal and cloud jump a few thousand feet higher. Circle vs Ridge
  16. 16. Mountain XC TechniquesLift often pools together riding up the slopesand creates columns of thermals off thepeaks. Lift tries to stay attached to risingground as long as possible. The highestpeaks most often have strongest thermals.
  17. 17. Lift Forming Over MountainsWills, 2002
  18. 18. Cloud streets line up along the mountains
  19. 19. Transitions and Patience• The key to successful cross country in the mountains is planning for transitions and having self-discipline to actually execute them.• Jumping from one ridge to the next or to a cloud street requires preplanning. Always leave yourself multiple options.• Every flight, plan to transition from cruising at 100 kts to best L/D.• Patience is critical, sometimes you must stop and go 90 degrees off course, or go backwards to find lift to get high enough to cross a valley or unlandable area.• The fastest flights always are the guys that didn’t get stuck! Transitioned the best.
  20. 20. Big Course Deviations Can Sometimes Work in the Mountains!
  21. 21. Northern Utah (Nevada, Idaho and Wyoming flying area overview)
  22. 22. Map produced by Jim Darke
  23. 23. Summer Cloud Streets
  24. 24. Many valleys with landable fields
  25. 25. Logan Common Tasking Area
  26. 26. Landable Areas
  27. 27. Transitions Over Unlandable Areas
  28. 28. Comfortable Heights for Transitions
  29. 29. Many valleys with landable fields
  30. 30. Glider view of Cache Valley
  31. 31. Example Flights
  32. 32. Thermal and Ridge CombinedJuly 5th, 2008First ridge run on the Salt River Range
  33. 33. Thermal and Ridge CombinedJuly 5th, 2008First ridge run on the Salt River Range
  34. 34. Ridge and Wave Flight October 3rd, 2007 700 km Dawn Launch
  35. 35. Ridge and Wave Flight October 3rd, 2007 700 km Dawn Launch
  36. 36. Potential 1000K Flights• Zig-Zag northeast to west• The triangle using the Wind River, Uinta and Teton, Salt River and Bear Ranges. – Unique geography with three mountain systems that form a triangle• Ridge only during the fall through spring time periods
  37. 37. Zig-Zag Northeast to WestStandard Cloud Street From Nevada to Montana
  38. 38. Zig-Zag Northeast to West
  39. 39. Triangle using the Wind River, Uinta and Teton, Salt River and Bear Ranges
  40. 40. Ridge onlyduring the Fallthrough Spring
  41. 41. Summary• Mountain flying offers whole new enjoyable way of looking at cross country• Take the time to learn carefully• Respect but don’t fear the mountains• We invite you to come to Northern Utah and come fly with us! 4 airports to choose from: – Logan, Morgan, Heber, Cedar Valley Be careful, it is very addictive!!!